I know it appears that I have fallen off the face of the earth because I have not been blogging (or responding to eMails or phone calls).
In reality - I have fallen into "Oh my God - ONE PERSON cannot cook for 170,000 people by themselves hell" (Okay - you caught me. I was exaggerating. 17,000 people.) (You don't believe that number??? How about 170? 'Cause that's what I've been trying to do ... or ... another name for it might be "Cooking Suicide for One".)
So in the last two weeks I've had this crazy "part-time" schedule.
Tuesday - spend 2 hours shopping for food to feed the masses for the Wednsday Night Dinner. (TWO HOURS SHOPPING!! Do you know what purgatory that is for me??) Then spend 8 hours prep work cooking Tuesday night. Then 12 hours on Wednesday - cooking/cleaning/telling people what to do for the Wednesday Dinner. (okay - the last part is a lot of fun - and I only wish I could tell some of them WHERE TO GO also).
But last week it changed to FRIDAY NIGHT spend 5 hours prep cooking for the Holiday Bazaar on Saturday. Which was followed by 4 hours on Saturday with finishing the cooking (but thankfully NOT responsible for serving or cleaning up!) for the Bazaar luncheon. On Sunday - I was sick. Sick, sick, sick, sick I'll never get out of bed, sick. And worrying about the upcoming Monday, Tues, Wed. when I had a T'giving lunch and Wednesday night dinner to cook for still.
The fact that you are reading this incredibly long missive is proof that I live. (Although "fully-functioning" and "sane" are not to be implied.)
So - at some delusional point yesterday (after working 41 hours in 3-days) I was thinking I'd be really productive today - on my "day off" and had a list of about 15 things that would be "quick and easy" to get done. But now - that I've interrupted some much needed sleep with wakefulness I feel all glassy-eyed and cotton-headed. Perhaps I should shorten my (as always) over-enthusiastic To-Do-List to just 3 or 4 things - and call it a day? (Among those things - clean the house - go to the farmers market and cook dinner for the Girls-N-The-Hood dinner tonight. Thankfully I only have to provide a clean house, nicely set table, and the main course!)
Yesterday for Wednesday Night Dinner - I made what I think was the most awful thing EVER. (and totally by the seat of my pants)
Because, you know, I had left-over EVERYTHING from the fluctuating Tuesday Thanksgiving Lunch Crowd of "It-will-only-be-45-people, No, wait-67-people, Ops-we-forgot-to-say-"no"-to-the-past-the-deadline-people-it's-77-people" - which turned out to only be sixty senior-citizen type people that really showed up. (the Sr. Citizen part was the ONLY part that wasn't a surprise.)
On Monday when I bought more than $800 dollars worth of groceries (for the two meals). I ended up buying a third turkey - because I wasn't sure previously purchased 44 lbs of turkey would feed 77 people. (And by the way? They looked gorgeous - and I <3 convection ovens that cook 3-22 lbs turkeys in 2 hours and 45 minutes.) - and then we (okay my LOVELY friend Meg who went ABOVE AND BEYOND) carved the turkeys and we FREAKED THE HELL OUT. Only one hotel pan of white meat and a 1/2 pan of dark meat.
And then everyone took little-itty-bitty-bird-size portions (because I asked them too - and now feel foolish) which they would have done ANYWAY - because THEY ARE OLD PEOPLE and do not eat much. *sigh*
But the real point was I had two 1-gallon Ziplock bags of turkey left over at the end of the meal. And tons of fresh green beans and stuffing and mashed (omgoodness they were good with buttermilk and chives and bacon) potatoes. And just couldn't see throwing it away - and since it had been on the warming table it really COULDN'T go to the rescue mission.
So I changed the Wed. night menu (which was a good thing, because I was on cleanup by-myself until five o'clock - and NO ONE besides one person showed up for Tuesday night prep work) and I'd never have been able to cook the original menu by myself, so now I'm rethinking (and not too enthusiastically what the future dinners will consist of). *sigh*
But anyway, back to what they ate Wed night. So I made these casseroles (gag-in-general about casseroles made from leftovers) for dinner. On the bottom layer I crumbled up the stuffing. Then I mixed the chopped turkey and green beans & roast onions together and made a layer. Then I covered it with the mashed (chunky) potatoes and baked them (with out any extra moisture - and I think next time I'd use some of the leftover turkey-giblet stock to just make everything a little soppy). When I took them out of the oven to serve them, I ladled gravy over the top. (and the potato layer was all crispy on top before the gravy addition - but apparently that was a "good thing").
Truly - I thought they were horrendous. But the people???? They RAVED. Some said they even thought it was THE BEST MEAL SO FAR. (Well I also had some way yummy braised short-ribs on the menu as a 'taste', but not the main course, and they WERE rave worthy). (And I am also thinking about banning those people from the "The best meal so far" category and wanting to ban them from ever eating one of my meals again - because WTF - "Leftovers are THE BEST thing you've eaten that I've cooked???)
I didn't believe they (the casseroles) really tasted good - although people kept coming up to me and telling me so, until I heard one woman tell her friend, "You know that spot in the middle of your Thanksgiving plate? Where everything kind of comes together? And it's all that mixed-up yummy-ness - and you wait to eat that spot - and it's the BEST PART EVER? I think that's what tonight's casserole was like! Man, I wish I could just mix up my whole plate like that before dinner!"
So - I guess they were telling the truth about liking them.
And also? I guess that's the difference between some of us. Because ME? That middle part - where stuff gets all gooshed together?? ... Is to be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS!! "Yicky-yucky-things-touching-each-other-without-harmony" is my thought.
So - that's my story and those are my thoughts. The "mooshed-togethers" and the "purists" shall never be happy together on this earth. (Or at the same dinner table.)
Happy Thursday everyone - get ready for your own Turkey Day - and be sure and kiss the person who carves the turkey - 'cause it's a BITCH.
(ps: Not to be irreverent - but I totally AM) There are times when we run out of food (like a specific time on the menu). Either because more people showed up than expected - or I didn't calculate quantities well. On those occasions, when we're out - the volunteer staff will come back and say, "We need more X." And I'll say, "We're out" (also without remorse or panic, which I think irritates them) ... and they say, "Can't you make some more?" And what I really want to say is, "ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?!?" because this is not a restaurant where you can just cook a few more plates of food or make up something different. Everything we have is out there. But what I have been saying is, (points-to-self) "Not Jesus".
Which should be correctly interpreted as, "I cannot multiply "nothing" into more food." Especially once all the fishes and loaves HAVE BEEN CONSUMED. </irreverent humor>